I've told you that I won't be discussing the particulars of my divorce on this blog, because I believe in privacy. I do feel comfortable talking about some of my personal experiences with the divorce, so I'd like to start by saying this: before we decided to separate, I agonized over the decision. Should I stay and try (again and again) to make things work? What about our kids? What would people think? What would people say? What about our extended families? Once the decision was made, and I started telling people, I have to admit: almost no one was surprised.
In fact, many people sympathized because they were close to me and knew parts of my journey, or because they are feeling trapped in an unfulfilling marriage themselves, or because they had just made the decision to leave an unfulfilling marriage, or because their parents had been in or stayed in such a relationship.
And that is when I realized: I am not as unique as I thought I was. Of course, I am saying that with my tongue in my cheek. I do understand the myriad ways that I and my situation are special. But, at the same time, I am not the first person in the history of the world to say, "This is broken. This has failed. I need to do something different and start over."
What is also fairly profound is that very few people talk about what they are going through, yet we share the same fears and doubts. I had an email exchange this very morning with someone who said that living in a small town has made her divorce process a more public production than she anticipated. Everyone is wondering, "What happened?" And it's the same when you are a teacher, believe me.
I suppose one way to look at this is to say, "Well, I am not special, so nothing I choose to do matters anyway. The planet is enormous, and I am very small in comparison." But, the way I choose to look at it is this: "My situation may not be unique; there are lots of single moms out there. But, this is first time in the history of the world that I have been a single mom." There are no precedents for what Divorced Denise does or thinks or acts. If I remain true to myself and who I am and always keep the best interests of my children in mind, then I know I am Doing It Right.
(Side note: This is very similar to how I approach(ed) motherhood. "This is my first time being a mom, and this is Aidan's first time being alive. We got this.")
I am not so naive to think that there aren't people out there who judge me for my choices. I know they exist, and bits and pieces of their mis-informed and un-compassionate prattle have reached my ears. I can't stop to think about that, though. Those people are trapped in their own prisons of ignorance and self-righteousness, and they alone can find their way out of the dark.
Instead, I choose to find comfort in the fact that I am not alone, while moving ahead, rejecting the expectations of others. And, at the end of the day, that is good enough for me!